By Walt Hickey
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India’s national elections will start on April 11 and be completed by May 19, and will cost something like 500 billion rupees, or $7 billion USD. That’s poised to beat the $6.5 billion spent on presidential and congressional races in 2016. The projection is a 40 percent jump from the $5 billion spent during the 2014 parliamentary vote and amounts to $8 per vote in a nation where 60 percent live on $3 per day. Lots of that will be thanks to social media spending, which was 2.5 billion rupees in 2014 and will be about 50 billion rupees this time around.
The Large Hadron Collider did a great job of finding the Higgs Boson, but the hopes that it would expand on or open new doors in particle physics have not really materialized. While going into the creation of the LHC, the particle physics community had a specific target in mind (the Higgs) and a decent idea of where they’d find it, but the next big particle collider won’t have such a specific target in mind. So that means that finding a host for the next atom smasher isn’t that easy, as hosts are essentially being pitched on a subatomic fishing expedition with no promise of success. Japan announced last week it’ll delay its decision on a proposed $7.5 billion 20-kilometer facility called the International Linear Collider. Whether Japan takes its bite at the apple will set a tone for other proposed plans in other countries, with a “yes” potentially leading to enthusiasm for (expensive and potentially fruitless) exploration of the particle physics frontier, and a “no” prompting international skepticism of the Future Circular Collider in Europe or the Circular Electron Positron Collider in China and possible renewed interest in the non-collider Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment in the U.S. and Hyper-Kamiokande in Japan.
Pete Kaiser and his team of dogs won the 1,000-mile Iditarod, finishing the race in 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes and 6 seconds. The annual Balto cosplay event comes with a prize of $50,000 and a new truck. Kaiser beat 51 other mushers, the closest by a mere 12 minutes. Kaiser is now the fifth Alaska Native and first Yupik musher to win. Not to be one who only praises Management while ignoring the accomplishment of Labor, my sources indicate the other members of the team are all good doggies who deserve scratchies, yes they do, oh yes they do.
Following two fatal crashes in five months — and following the entire world, except the U.S., grounding the plane — the Federal Aviation Administration has grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8. The plan is off to an inauspicious start, as compared to 46 other aircraft flown in commercial fleets since 1996, no other plane has accumulated fatalities as quickly as the 737 Max 8. Still, commercial airline travel is far safer than driving — on a per-mile basis from 2007 to 2016 there were 11 fatalities per trillion miles of commercial flight in the U.S., compared to 7,863 fatalities per trillion miles of highway travel in the same period.
A new Gallup poll found that 37 percent of Catholics say recent news about sexual abuse in the church is making them personally question whether to remain Catholic. On one hand, this seems like an eye-popping number, but on the other hand, the story does indicate that “experts on the polling of Catholics say considering leaving isn’t the same as leaving.” This is a fact that will be attested to by Catholics, and those who were raised Catholic, a group of people that includes both myself and also the editor of this newsletter, who each agree that a core component of being raised Irish Catholic is indefinitely being not cool with a lot of stuff, but also being too stubborn to actually address that in any coherent or committal fashion.
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Activision Blizzard will follow up the Overwatch League with a Call of Duty esports league with city-based teams. The cost per franchise has been set at $25 million, and the company is lining up indications of interest over the next two weeks. They’re also giving Overwatch League team owners dibs on franchises in their current markets. The league will go live sometime in 2020. Back in 2017, the company sold 12 franchises for $20 million each and attracted interest from owners of more traditional sports teams in Philly, New England and Los Angeles.
This Friday, department store Nieman Marcus will open its 43rd location, but the big deal is that it’s the first location in New York City, which is basically the major leagues for luxury stores. Why did it take one of the largest department stores in America over a century to make it from Dallas to Midtown, especially when it sells $100 million of merch to New Yorkers online annually? It’s because of an urban legend that is apparently true: in the 1970s, when Bergdorf Goodman became owned by the same parent company, as part of a lease agreement Nieman was restricted from opening a store within the same area as the Fifth Avenue flagship, which ended up meaning “all of the island of Manhattan.” When that restriction was rolled back and Hudson Yards began hunting for anchor tenants, Nieman saw its shot at a $2 billion beachhead in the Big Apple and jumped, with this 43rd location.
CORRECTION: A piece covered in this was corrected after the email was sent, those fatality figures in the 737 story are per trillion miles travelled, not million.
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